Welcome to tales of my stitching life, home, family and friends.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Pretty little work bag

I received this pretty little workbag from my pen friend Carol from South Dakota. It has it’s own handy little pin cushion attached to the base. Thanks Carol, I love it.



While we have been relaxing in our New Zealand summer over Christmas with warm temperatures, but with quite a bit of rain, I must admit, Carol spends Christmas in the depths of winter. Her latest e-mail tells of major freeways closed with snow which disrupted a lot of Christmas plans. And then there was the 15 inches of snow around her home. Seems hard to imagine here. Guess a little bit of rain is not so bad then!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas everyone

Xmas Decorations

Wishing you all special Christmas wishes from New Zealand. Hope you all have a safe and happy Christmas season.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Twas the night before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas, I’m glued to the tree

I’m wondering what Santa has brought just for me

Could it be fat quarters or a pattern or lace?

Or a quilt kit, I said, with a smile on my face

And that’s when I heard him, “Hi Santa”, I said

“You know, good little girls should be in their beds”

“I know I should Santa, but now I’ve been caught

But I was just so excited to see what you brought”

“Well, let’s take a look in this room where you work”

He shook his head quickly and left with a jerk

I heard him exclaim as he put in the gear

“You’ve got enough stuff, I’ll see you next year”

Thanks to Laurie of www.scrappingblogs.blogspot.com for sharing this poem

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Our caravan has turned Christmassy

It’s almost time to go away in the caravan so it’s only right and fitting that the caravan has to be decorated for Christmas too. Just in the door a cheery Redwork Santa is waiting to welcome guests inside.

DSCF2395 Redwork Santa

On the ledge above the door I have a collection of small Santas. The three on the left are hand made, known as “table Santas” However, in this case they are “ledge Santas. Also hanging up is a lovely little stylised Pohutakawa blossom. The Pohutakawa tree is known as the New Zealand Christmas Tree as it bursts into crimson red flowers over the summer.

DSCF2394 Small Santas on duty

It’s time to change the cushion covers for the Christmas ones I have stitched. Even more redwork Santas .

DSCF2397 Santa cushions for Christmas

And don’t let’s forget Santa Bear. He is a Polar Bear of course, and came with a bright red hat and jacket edged in white fur. Oh no, that won’t go with burgundy furnishings, will it. So I unpicked the jacket and hat, used the pieces as a pattern to cut out a nice new outfit, stitched it all together, adding the white fur trim. Now Santa Bear comes out every Christmas to sit up on the couch just waiting for a cuddle.

DSCF2396 Santa Bear in his new burgundy outfit

When we get to the motor camp we will string up some Christmas lights around the caravan. The youngsters in camp love to come and see all the Christmas lights flashing in the evening.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Gifts of Christmas Past

I am really blessed to have several overseas pen friends who also share my passion for quilting. So their gifts get an outing too each Christmas. Let me show you some of the wonderful Christmas themed gifts I have received over the years. They have their own special spots where they get hung each year. First up is a lovely little wall-hanging featuring Robin Redbreast and his friends, you can tell this one came to me from England! And how about this bright and cheerful hand appliquedued Christmas Trees decorated with buttons, which arrived from USA.



I have also received a couple of Christmas panels and these make very acceptable gifts too, as I get a lot of enjoyment from the many happy hours spent hand quilting them. This one hangs in the dining room over the Christmas holidays.

DSCF2303 Christmas Panel

And this lovely Christmas ABC panel hangs up high over a doorway in our hall. Both lovingly hand quilted by me, over a long period of time, I must add. I like to hand quilt when we are away in our caravan, but I am rather slow. Never mind, they get completed sooner or later!

DSCF2304Christmas ABC Panel

Father Christmas is sitting at his sewing machine stitching himself a new hat, with his cat snoozing in a basket at his feet. He has pride of place on top of the gas heater, which of course, we do not need to light over Christmas, as it is Summer time here in New Zealand!!

DSCF2289And sent to me over several years is my lovely collection of little mice (and one elf) sitting astride sewing paraphernalia, such as a cotton reel, thimble, and pincushion, sent to me from USA. They are so cute, and I just love them. I set them out on top of a piece of hand made lace made by a lovely English pen friend who has sadly since passed away. And then there are my two lovely snowmen ornaments, also from USA. The larger one is beautifully decorated and looks so happy ringing his bells. The little one in front is beautiful Jim Shore snowman with his patchwork vest.


DSCF2393 Mice and snowmen Christmas ornaments

There are so many lovely memories attached to all my treasures. I am so lucky to have met up with several of my overseas pen friends already and really appreciate the friendship we have shared over the years.

Merry Christmas to you all.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Deck the halls

I just love Christmas and have been busy hanging up my Christmas quilts. I always hang then in the beginning of December so that I can get maximum enjoyment from them. Here are just a few of my quilts. Made just two years ago is “All the Love of Christmas”, an adaptation of a Bronwyn Hayes design with her trademark stitchery blocks. I did make some changes as I couldn’t live with upside down people! Such fun to do and I am really pleased with the finished quilt.



All the Love of Christmas

It is always interesting to check the labels and see when these creations were made. My red and green “Christmas Stars” was made way back in 1992! My tastes have changed over the years and I tend to use more of a burgundy red these days instead of bright red.

DSCF2294 Christmas Stars

I really enjoy doing the stitchery style blocks and completed this cute little Christmas Swag earlier this year. The Santa, reindeer, snowman and Christmas tree were easy to stitch. I like to use the thicker Perle cotton instead of the more usual stranded cottons.

DSCF2391 Christmas Swag

And lastly, this pretty little crazy quilted tree was a gift from my daughter Nicky many years ago, so of course is very special to me. The tree is adorned with various braid, buttons, cord, ribbon and lace. My daughter is not a quilter so I think this is the first and last quilt she has ever made, which makes it even more special.

DSCF2295 Crazy patched Christmas Tree

Friday, December 18, 2009

Everyone loves a bride

It was a glamorous trip through more than 100 years of fashion viewing the 27 wedding dresses on display at Expressions Art Centre. One dress in particular, a French silk two piece, has been worn by 6 brides, starting from 1875 and most recently in 1995. All the brides wore the skirt, with the bodice been altered and adjusted to suit. What a wonderful piece of family history.There were two “flapper” style dresses, stunning in their simplicity of line. One had a beautiful lace overlay stitched with pearls, and a small lace train. I just loved the older style gowns with long sleeves, high necklines, bustles, and tiny waists. Girls were certainly much smaller back then, and of course everyone wore corsets, didn’t they.

DSCF2351 Bride’s gown worn by six brides and a beautiful lace and pearl flapper style dress

I was really interested to see the rare 1945 gown made from parachute silk. Imagine the story that goes with this wedding dress! It was made from an Allied parachute picked up by the groom’s brother in Japan after the Hiroshima bombing. What a prize that silk must have been in war time. Plainer gowns were also on show, including a muslin dress made in the Depression, and a more modern short broderie anglaise cotton dress.



Several modern coloured gowns were also shown. I noticed a pretty little green flocked nylon dress, found by the bride in her grandmother’s basement, which was originally a bridesmaid dress. Most unusual was a purple wedding gown, designed by the bride to reflect the colours of the stained glass windows in Old St Paul's church.

DSCF2355 Modern wedding gowns

All the gowns were beautifully displayed, and ranged from the 1800s up to the present day with two to three dresses from each decade. All the dresses had photos and stories of the brides special day. It was great to wander around the exhibition and view all these special gowns.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Stitching Mondays Christmas lunch

This time of the year is certainly busy with groups getting together for their last meeting of the year. The Stitching Monday group, an off shoot of my Pinestream Patchwork Quilters group, meet monthly and yesterday was the last meeting of the year. We took a shared lunch to enjoy together, and as someone remarked, there wasn’t a chocolate to be seen! Probably with all the Christmas break-ups happening, everyone decided to bring a plate of healthy food for a change. The table looked lovely set with a cloth and serviettes, with all the goodies temptingly set out.

DSCF2387 Ready for our shared Christmas lunch

During the day we all stitched together on our own projects. I noticed two Christmas stockings that were being finished off in time for Christmas. A couple of sewing machines were humming away, with both ladies making pieced borders to complete their respective quilts.

DSCF2388 Pamela’s Lone Star quilt with pieced border

There was plenty of hand stitching being done, from applique, sewing down bindings, stitching on ric-rac. The club light box was put to good use as patterns were traced. Of course, we had to check out what everyone else was working on, and put the world to rights too.



Thanks, ladies, for your company and friendship during the year. I enjoy the Stitching Mondays so much that I take a day off work to attend. How’s that for dedication?

Monday, December 14, 2009

A little birthday gift

Most members in our Caravan Club have handy little timber slat tables that fold up flat for easy storage. These little tables are just the right size to have beside our seats as we sit outside for morning tea (or lunch, or 4zees) enjoying the sunshine. Eileen was having a major birthday so I made her a little tablecloth to use on her caravan table. Used some special fabric that was printed with various English brand names. This was quite appropriate as both Eileen and her husband were born on Good Old Blighty.


However, on close inspection, the brand names were a letter or two incorrect, a way to get around copyright I expect . Such as Crys instead of Frys chocolate.

DSCF1998 The birthday table cloth

I had two fabrics from this range and used a terracotta fabric for sashing and borders. Where was the label, Eileen wanted to know? Oops, better fix that up for her, I should know better than that, shouldn’t I?

DSCF2384 Happy Birthday Eileen

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I’m so excited!!

The apron I made for the great Christmas Apron Challenge has been featured on Karen’s Selvage Blog at www.selvageblog.blogspot.com. What an thrill this is!!

DSCF2249 My Christmas Apron with selvages used on the bib

I shudder when I think of all those selvage strips that I used to cut off and throw away. Not any more – the Selvage Blog has so many ideas of what to do with them all. This is my first selvage project, but I certainly have plans for more.

DSCF2366 My selvage collection

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Cute little bags

I have made about eight of these cute little bags this year. Kept two for myself, a pink and a blue, and I use them for storing threads, needles, small scissors and the like, all the different things you need for stitching projects. The others, all made in this fabric featuring jars of buttons, I have sent away for overseas gifts during the year. The last little bag went as a birthday gift to my pen friend Carol in South Dakota, posted last week. The postie delivered the parcel on the correct day, how lucky was that! Now it has been received, I can finally show a picture of the cute little bag. I added different coloured buttons to the bags.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Christmas Bon Bons

The sewing machine has been humming as I’ve been hard at work trying to get all my stitching up to date in time for Christmas. At this time of the year, it’s rush, rush, rush with a million things to do. One of the easier projects I’ve done is make a few Christmas Bon Bons. Made from festive fabric with a nice toning or contrasting lining, I think they turned out out really well. The idea is to fill them with delicious wrapped chocolates or something similar. They would make cute little gifts to give away, or you could put one on each place setting on the Christmas Dinner table.

DSCF2287 Christmas Bon Bons waiting to be filled with goodies

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Jeans Bag? Yes, please!

Isn’t it great when one of the family want you to stitch them a gift! I had made a jeans bag some weeks ago for my eldest grand-daughter for her birthday and asked the younger one if she would perhaps like one for Christmas. “Yes please Nana, they’re cool. Could I have black jeans and red lining?”. No, she didn’t want any added embellishments, just a plain bag. So I went op-shopping looking for a pair of black jeans. The size didn’t matter. Plenty of blue demin jeans hanging up, then at last I found a nice black pair, and they had fancy details on the back pockets too. Just what I was looking for!

DSCF2285 Black jeans bag with bright red lining

First thing was to give them a good hot wash and hang them out in the sun to dry. Then, chop the legs off and hem right across. Make a shoulder strap from one of the legs and stitch in place. Then make a lining, stitching that securely under the waistband. Last of all, cut down the triple seam on one of the legs, thread through waistband and knot ends. So easy, and best of all, I know Megan will love it. Perhaps I’ll put a little something extra in one of the pockets for her.

DSCF2286 Back pocket detail

The original pattern was by Jan Knight and featured in Patchwork and Stitching Vol 4 No 2.

Monday, November 30, 2009

100 handmade Santa's

That’s what the small ad in the local newspaper said – a collection of 100 handmade Santa's on show at the home of local couple Moira and Allen. So I collected my friend Adele and we went for a drive to see all these Santa's on display. After all, Christmas is coming up fast so a “Santa fix” will get us in the Christmas spirit. Just inside the door was a large decorated Christmas Tree. A couple of youngsters were enthralled as they watched the train circle around and around the base. Allen was chief train driver and and he seemed to be having just as much fun as the children. Moira told us that she had made most of the faces for her creations, using tin foil and clay. Each figure was exquisitely dressed and we were invited to pick them up and check out their clothing. The display covered three rooms and we wandered slowly around admiring each and every Santa.

DSCF2258One of the many groupings

There was a delightful Nativity scene in the dining room, all dressed in hues of blue and purple. The three Kings were dressed luxuriously in shades of purple and gold. Mary and Joseph were more plainly dressed, and the shepherd was carrying a little black lamb. Moira told us that she had made the figure of baby Jesus herself from clay.

DSCF2257 Nativity scene

There were other figures too. We noticed Charlie Chaplin, Merlin the Magician, Genghis Khan, an Inuit Eskimo and a setting of carol singers. Christmas wreaths and wall hangings adorned the walls and there were Christmas cushions and stocking scattered around. We loved the snow white Polar Claus, whose outfit was made from their daughter’s wedding dress. Polar Claus rides astride his own polar bear.

DSCF2263 Polar Claus with his polar bear

There were Santa’s of every imaginable style, even a Surfboard Santa. All the items on display are lovingly made by hand and as a crafter myself, I can appreciate the time involved. Thank you Moira and Allen for so generously sharing the magic of Christmas.

DSCF2264 Allen and Moira

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Christmas Apron Challenge

I had been sewing away diligently on my Christmas Apron challenge to get it completed in time for our November club night. Whew – did it with one week’s grace, that’s a relief. There is nothing worse than stitching right up to the moment you step out the door!! The challenge was to make a Christmas themed apron, of our own design. I am definitely a wearer of aprons – probably because I am a messy cook, so this challenge certainly took my fancy. So I went hunting for that commercial apron pattern that I knew I had from years gone by, (Butterick 4066). Remember those tissue paper patterns? And the trouble you have trying to fold them all up neatly afterwards and get all the bits back into the envelope? I decided to stitch the selvage from the Christmas fabric across the apron bib. The print was used for the straps, pockets and the apron hem, teamed with cream homespun. It didn’t turn out too bad, if I do say so myself.

DSCF2249 My Christmas Apron featuring a selvedge bib

Last night my apron joined about 16 others hung up during my quilt club meeting. There were all sorts of variations on the theme, some had appliqué, some were embellished within an inch of their lives, and some just let the fabric speak for itself. There was a lovely Christmas Fairy flitting about the hall, and she stood still by the Christmas Tree just long enough for me to take her photo.

DSCF2253 The Christmas Fairy

Voting time arrived and we oohad and aahed as we checked them all out and finally made our choice. Judging was by Viewers Choice, and I am happy to report that the apron I voted for was 1st equal. This was a fun competition and everyone enjoyed seeing the end results. Great work from all who took part.

DSCF2256 First prize equal goes to Margaret and Anne

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Wish I could stitch like this!!

I popped in to view the Upper Hutt Embroiderers Guild Exhibition today, titled “Labours of Love”. These ladies do wonderful work and 60 pieces were exhibited. The Upper Hutt Embroiderers Guild recently celebrated their 25th Anniversary and has approximately 40 members. I marvelled at the 2009 Challenge Embroider your Initial”, which really needed close inspection to see all the different stitches and techniques that went into the various initials.

DSCF2219 2009 Challenge – Embroider your Initial

On display were items of stump work, black work, gold work and cross stitch, and all sorts of other techniques. There was a display of hardanger, which I really love. Hardanger always looks beautiful and is something that I would quite like to try. But could I trust myself, I wonder, to snip the fabric so close to that stitching without causing damage? Perhaps not. Perhaps I will just have to be content with the two lovely hardanger pieces that my daughter Nicky made me a few years ago.

DSCF2221 Display of hardanger pieces

There were several glorious bead encrusted camels on display. These were obviously made at a class and were all so different, and just as lovely as each other. Such a lot of work went into making these beauties.

DSCF2220 One of several camels on display

Another class was crazy patch cushions, as a quilter I can certainly relate to this type of stitching. But the piece that really took my fancy was a banner glowing with gold.

DSCF2224 The golden banner

Wish I could stitch like this! With my fat fingers I am more comfortable using thicker threads and needles, and I like to do a little candlewick embroidery and red work. Fine embroidery is not really for me, but I love to view exhibitions and can certainly appreciate all the talent that goes into making such beautiful items.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Saturday night at the Quilt Shop

Saturday night is not usually spent at a quilt shop. No indeed, but a group of keen quilters were invited along to Sawmiller’s Quiltery to view recent purchases from the huge annual International Quilt Market in Houston. This quilt shop is the “new kid on the block” here in Upper Hutt. Nestled in a beautiful garden setting with towering trees and it’s own babbling brook, Sawmiller’s Quiltery is the former family home of Kevin Bold. After buying it back some years years later, in 2007, Kevin opened the Stonestead Tea House. Then Kevin with the help of Yvonne Matthews decided to move forward with the next phase in the project – a quilt shop. The shop is situated in a building that was relocated and restored onsite especially for the Quiltery.

DSCF2203 Sawmiller’s Quiltery

An eager bunch of ladies gathered in the Tea Shop and after a little bit of mix and mingle settled down to watch the presentation about the International Quilt Market in Houston. Such a huge place and Kevin and Yvonne admitted to getting lost on a few occasions! We viewed all the goodies brought and watched a demonstration upstairs about the X block. Lucky me won a spot prize, one of the many that were awarded during the evening, two fat quarters of fabric with a 1930’s look, plus a little shoulder bag. The bag has a plastic pocket on the front, think I will have to make a special little quilt block to pop in there.

DSCF2218My lucky spot prize

Then it was time to draw the main prize of the evening, a wonderful basket full to overflowing with fabric and assorted quilting goodies. “And the winner is …… Adele”. There was a moment of confusion as there were two ladies with the same name present. My friend and workmate Adele was the winner, and we were all so pleased for her. As a new quilter, she was absolutely thrilled and couldn’t wait to get home and look through her gift basket.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Secret Sewing and goodies in the mail

I have been doing some “secret sewing” over the last few days. With Christmas coming up fast my quilt club is having a Christmas Apron Challenge at our last meeting of the year. The aprons will be judged by Viewer’s Choice, so I can’t really show my offering just yet. It will be interesting to see what everyone else comes up with. Watch this space!

DSCF2205Is there an apron in here?

The postman brought me a lovely surprise today. It was a parcel of fabric from my pen friend Elaine in Australia, a belated pressie for my birthday last month. On her card she had written, “I always think of you when I buy pussy cat fabric”. She sent me 3 half yard pieces, cats in a cottage garden, cats wrecking havoc in a sewing room, and a striking black and white print. We met Elaine and Steve through our love of caravanning, and I have the honour of introducing Elaine to the pleasures of patchwork and quilting.

DSCF2208 Three lovely pussy cat fabrics

Had a bit of an “Ooops” moment last week. The rotary cutter slipped and ran over my fingernail, slicing it about half way down. Luckily it didn’t draw blood but I will have to keep it covered until the split nail grows out, I certainly don’t want to catch it on anything. Just goes to show that I wasn't taking enough care.